ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The defensive side of the ball for the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines helped their offense and special teams overcome a turnover-riddled 31-6 victory against the Bowling Green Falcons under the lights at the Big House.
After defensive lineman Kris Jenkins and defensive back Keon Sabb forced a punt, the men in maize opened the game with explosive runs by Heisman hopeful Blake Corum, who had a 54-yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage by the Wolverines.
Corum capped off the drive with a four-yard run up the gut for his first score of the game.
Heisman hopeful #BlakeCorum opens the game with his longest run of the season of 54 yards. Corum capped off the drive with a 4 yard run up the gut for 6. #MichiganWolverines take 7-0 lead. #MichiganFootball pic.twitter.com/gdjJJ2qhgz— Brandon L. Carr (@Carrpediem21) September 17, 2023
Corum finished the game hitting the century mark as he toted the rock 12 times for 101 yards and two rushing scores.
The win under the newly renovated lights inside Michigan Stadium wasn’t the prettiest of wins as second-year starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy struggled mightily as he finished the game completing 8-13 passes for 143 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
McCarthy started the season hot as he set all sorts of career highs, but Saturday (Sept. 16) was different for the junior quarterback.
“I’m going to take all of those turnovers on the chin,” said McCarthy. “There’s a lot of stuff that you know just didn’t go my way nor the offense way, but I just can’t wait to watch the tape and just see the mistakes that were made and get better from it, honestly, but I’m going to take it on the chin as they’re on me.”
The three interceptions were uncharacteristic of McCarthy, as the Michigan football community thought those days were behind him.
“The first drive was really successful on the ground, and we tried to stay balanced with everything,” said interim head coach Sherrone Moore. “The second drive, we drove all the way down there, and we weren’t spaced out, which led to a pick.”
Still, the ill-advised throws and nearly costly interceptions were pivotal as at least one was in the red zone, but they were momentum killers for the fans in attendance in the season’s first home night game as they wanted to party.
Bad decision by second year starter #JJMcCarthy as his redzone interception not only took points off of the board but it possibly could have shifted the momentum. #MichiganFootball #MichiganWolverines pic.twitter.com/QSSlcRtLJw— Brandon L. Carr (@Carrpediem21) September 17, 2023
“No matter what, whether it’s a great throw or an interception, I’m always going to move on and stay in the present moment no matter what it is,” McCarthy said. “It just didn’t go well after the first one (interception), and you know I just got to watch the film and see what I can do better.”
McCarthy was making critical errors in inopportune times. Moore sensed that the team needed an extra energy boost and called for a flea flicker to wide receiver Cornelius Johnson to put the game out of reach.
“It was definitely an ill-advised throw,” McCarthy said. “But I saw the cornerback had a cast on, and I know I have one of the best receivers in the country down there with them, so I just gave him a chance, and he made me right.”
Johnson led the team in receptions and yards as he finished the nightcap with three catches for 71 yards and one touchdown.
“It was exciting being the head coach,” Moore said. “We have a great staff, which helped a lot as the guys are extremely supportive, including our players.”
The Falcons must have seen something in the film room for the Wolverines special teams unit as they kept rugby style kicking the ball down the field during punts and kickoffs, which evidently came to fruition as Max Bredeson fumbled setting up Bowling Green in Michigan territory.
But the defense dug in their heels and forced a field goal to keep the game at bay.
The defense was the catalyst for the victory as they made play after play while holding the Falcons to six points.
While achieving 10 tackles for loss in the victory, the Wolverines held Bowling Green to 205 yards total, with 124 coming through the air and 81 yards on the ground.
The men in maize got key contributions from a plethora of players, including senior defensive back Mike Sainristil, who had three tackles with two for a loss and one sack. Junior Colson led the team in total tackles with seven including five solos.
Quinten Johnson also made an appearance as he had one solo tackle; his interception in the second quarter stalled what was almost a monumental moment as the Falcons were marching down the field.
But it was Jenkins who got the momentum rolling to start the second half as he read a screen pass perfectly for an interception after the offense went three and out on their first drive of the second half.
“We’ve been practicing that play all week as we knew they would get after us on the screens when they had the opportunities, so when the opportunity presented itself, I saw the moment, and I saw the pass. Unfortunately, I was too fat to finish the play strong.”
With the victory, the Wolverines have advanced to 3-0 on the season. It also means that the non-conference schedule has concluded, with Michigan hosting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this upcoming Saturday.
Not to mention, head coach Jim Harbaugh returns from his school-imposed three-game suspension.
The coaching staff will have the player’s ears after that sloppy third game of the season. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. at the Big House, but what would you like to see them improve on this week ahead of Rutgers?